Keys and pathways to more precise medicine

Shaping the future of drug discovery

A perfect place!

Drug discovery has come a long way from guesswork to a structural and targeted approach to finding new and better remedies. And yet, despite all the progress that has been made, we often do not have all the puzzle pieces that would enable us to see the big picture. To solve the riddle of a drug, to find the right target and to understand exactly how it influences processes at work in a human cell, scientists from many different fields have to work together: biologists, chemists, crystallographers, bioengineers, computer scientists and even physicists and engineers. In the meantime, the industry must learn to translate their scientific effort into a new innovative product.

At PARK INNOVAARE, such interdisciplinary collaborations between science and industry can flourish, thus helping find keys and pathways to more precise medicine and bring drug discovery into a new era.

Nils Gebhardt, Managing Director

New age of Drug Discovery

Video interview with Prof. Dr. Gebhard Schertler

Pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries often depend on the information acquired through basic research. To develop new drugs, for instance, companies need to stay up to date about the latest discoveries in genomics, proteomics, structural or quantitative biology and learn how to translate this knowledge into a new product. In his interview with PARK INNOVAARE, Professor Dr. Gebhardt Schertler, Head of the Division of Biology and Chemistry at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and one of the brightest minds in structural biology, shares his views on the challenges and opportunities of modern drug discovery and the role of basic research.

Read the transcript of the interview here.


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COMPANIES ON THE SPOT

Already four innovative biotech start-ups / spin-offs have established their operations at PARK INNOVAARE. Focusing on structural analysis and crystallization, qualitative and quantitative phase analysis of pharmaceutical compounds, membrane proteins, and biosensors, they are making their way as exclusive, highly specialized service providers for biotech and pharmaceutical companies and developing their own drug discovery programs.

Get to know our companies and find out what they have to offer.


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leadXpro AG

leadXpro AG

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Biotech start-up, leadXpro “unlocks” new targets for structure-based drug discovery.

Image » Biotech start-up, leadXpro “unlocks” new targets for structure-based drug discovery.

Contacts

Prof. Dr. Michael Hennig, CEO
leadXpro AG
PARK INNOVAARE: deliveryLAB
5234 Villigen
www.leadxpro.com


The structure of only 30 out of 800 known human membrane proteins is currently defined and can be used in structure-based drug discovery. At PARK INNOVAARE, leadXpro AG is committed to unlocking more membrane protein targets for modern drug discovery efforts by mastering the generation of purified proteins, applying biophysical methods and fully utilizing the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) facilities such as the Swiss Light Source (SLS) and Free-Electron Laser (SwissFEL). Apart from the services provided to the pharmaceutical industry, the company's own research activities are focused on the lead discovery for better cancer treatments, through the understanding of selected pathways linked to immunomodulatory and inflammatory mechanisms. In addition, leadXpro strives to identify antibiotics with new mechanisms of action.

 

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Excelsus Structural Solutions (Swiss) AG

Excelsus Structural Solutions (Swiss) AG

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Excelsus offers synchrotron-radiation-based analytical services to the industry, with emphasis on pharmaceuticals, food and chemicals.

Image » Excelsus offers synchrotron-radiation-based analytical services to the industry, with emphasis on pharmaceuticals, food and chemicals.

Contacts

Dr. Fabia Gozzo, CEO
Excelsus Structural Solutions (Swiss) AG
PARK INNOVAARE: deliveryLAB
5234 Villigen
www.excelsusss.com


Excelsus Structural Solutions (Swiss) AG offers a fast, easy and affordable access to state-of-the-art characterization tools for the structural and microstructural analysis of materials (pharmaceuticals, food and aroma compounds, pigments, polymers as well as various other chemicals), for the selection, development and manufacturing of high quality products. Excelsus’ core activities are based on unique high-resolution, in-situ and time-resolved Synchrotron X-Ray Powder Diffraction (S-XRPD) developed at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and acknowledged worldwide. Furthermore, the company utilises a problem-solving approach to assist its industrial customers in the design and execution of unconventional experimental setups through scientific consulting and access to a wide scientific network.

 

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InterAx Biotech AG

InterAx Biotech AG

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InterAx team is developing different assets for the discovery of functionally selective drugs with improved efficacy and reduced side effects.

Image » InterAx team is developing different assets for the discovery of functionally selective drugs with improved efficacy and reduced side effects.

Contacts

Dr. Martin Ostermaier, CEO
InterAx Biotech AG
PARK INNOVAARE: deliveryLAB
5234 Villigen
www.interaxbiotech.com


InterAx Biotech AG is a spin-off of the ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), combining the output of protein-based IP-protected biosensors with the mathematical modelling of signaling pathways to identify safer and better drug candidates. On the one hand, the company facilitates drug discovery for difficult-to-handle drug targets; on the other, it will help improve the selection of lead molecules thanks to its ability to better predict drug safety and efficacy before costly and risky clinical trials. With its headquarters at PARK INNOVAARE, InterAx Biotech benefits from the direct proximity to the Paul Scherrer Institute which allows the spin-off to collaborate locally with the Institute, in particular with the Division of Biology and Chemistry, and to better align the research supported by grants, such as the CTI project, with its internal R&D.

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Crystallise! AG

Crystallise! AG

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Crystallise! has achieved unprecedented results in the absolute configuration determination of small single crystals of a light atom compound.

Image » Crystallise! has achieved unprecedented results in the absolute configuration determination of small single crystals of a light atom compound.

Contacts

Dr. Gunther Steinfeld, CEO
Dr. Gustavo Santiso-Quiñones, CTO
Crystallise! AG
PARK INNOVAARE: deliveryLAB
5234 Villigen
www.crystallise.ch


Crystallise! AG focuses on the structural characterization of unknown or not fully characterized substances using single crystal X-ray analysis. It provides crystallographic services for the identification of small molecule compounds including the crystallization of the sample. The company runs an independent laboratory and has its own diffractometer for X-ray analyses. It also has access to synchrotron radiation for micro-sized crystals. Crystallise! AG can deal with extremely sensitive air-, moisture- and temperature-unstable materials. Furthermore, it can handle hydrate and solvate systems. Using state-of-the-art equipment, it can measure smaller crystals compared to many other service providers. Among other things, Crystallise! AG performs the crystallization of pure liquid substances under the cryo-stream of the diffractometer.

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HUGE R&D POTENTIAL

PARK INNOVAARE and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) unite at one site some of the brightest scientific minds and the most skilful entrepreneurs. In interdisciplinary collaborations, they advance basic research and the translation of its results into the industry. Here, the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries can truly benefit from outstanding scientific know-how and expertise.

Click through the latest achievements at PARK INNOVAARE.


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Unprecedented level of detection

Unprecedented level of detection

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ynchrotron-XRPD patterns recorded on ad-hoc mixtures of salicylic acid and paracetamol (ACP) Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.

Image » ynchrotron-XRPD patterns recorded on ad-hoc mixtures of salicylic acid and paracetamol (ACP) Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.

Excelsus Structural Solutions (Swiss) AG
Dr. Fabia Gozzo
fabia.gozzo@excels.us


The results of the research and development activities in chemical, agro-chemical, pharmaceutical and many other areas often depend on the correctly identified structure of the analyzed sample. This is particularly true for the pharmaceutical industry. X-Ray Powder Diffraction (XRPD) is considered the gold standard method for identifying and quantifying crystalline solid forms (i.e. polymorphs, hydrates, solvates, amorphous, salts, co-crystals) and provides the industry with crucial data. Excelsus Structural Solutions AG, one of the high-tech companies based at PARK INNOVAARE, is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of the XRPD method. With access to the Swiss Light Source (SLS) at the Paul Scherrer Institute, the company offers industries unique analytical services using Synchrotron X-Ray Powder Diffraction (S-XRPD), which is far superior to laboratory XRPD in terms of angular resolution, counting statistics, energy tenability, and fast acquisition time. By optimizing the beamline optics, the Excelsus team was recently able to push the lowest limit of detection (LoD) much further and hit 0.01 wt% (percentage per weight).

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The value of the absolute structure

The value of the absolute structure

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3D structure of a popular “drug”. It tastes sweet, causes diabetes and dental plaque, but can cure undernourishment.

Image » 3D structure of a popular “drug”. It tastes sweet, causes diabetes and dental plaque, but can cure undernourishment.

Crystallise! AG
Dr. Gunther Steinfeld, Dr. Gustavo Santiso-Quinones
info[at]crystallise.ch


The exact knowledge and understanding of a molecule’s structure underpin all the substantial progress in chemical, agrarian and pharmaceutical research. Take for example structure-based drug discovery: in order to be effective, drug's compounds must perfectly match the receptor, like a key in a keyhole. If the compound’s structure is slightly different or if other forms are present, it can result in unexpected side-effects. PARK INNOVAARE’s resident Crystallise! AG knows the ropes in small molecule structure identification and shares its outlook on the current challenges and the future of the industrial application of absolute structure knowledge. Using state-of-the-art technologies at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the company has achieved unprecedented results in absolute configuration determination of a small single crystal of a light atom compound.

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Electron Diffraction: new possibilities for structure-based drug discovery

Electron Diffraction: new possibilities for structure-based drug discovery

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Visualization of hydrogen atoms can be refined against electron diffraction data.

Image » Visualization of hydrogen atoms can be refined against electron diffraction data.

Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI)
Dr. Tim Grüne
tim.gruene@psi.ch


Modern pharmaceutical development is tailored to the chemical and physical characteristics of active organic compounds. Obtaining a polymorph portfolio of a compound is a demanding process requiring novel analytical methods. But its importance is not to be underestimated as it helps design a safe and effective medicine. There are two methods that are commonly used to determine polymorphic structures: single-crystal (SC-XRD) and powder X-ray diffraction (XRPD). Despite being in constant development and progress, both methods have their limits. To meet the scientific and industrial demand, new complementary methods such as Electron Diffraction (ED) are coming to life. This new approach makes it possible to determine the structure from powders with only very few nanocrystals, unavailable for conventional techniques. With its advantages over SC-XRD and XRPD, electron diffraction represents one of the most promising fields of research for unlocking new possibilities in structure-based drug discovery.

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Novel ligand-bound GPCR structures

Novel ligand-bound GPCR structures

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Membrane protein structure determination could lead to a better drug development as it allows a better understanding of the mechanisms of action.

Image » Membrane protein structure determination could lead to a better drug development as it allows a better understanding of the mechanisms of action.

leadXpro AG
Prof. Dr. Michael Hennig
michael.hennig@leadxpro.com


Membrane protein drug targets represent a significant challenge for high-resolution three-dimensional structure determination limiting the discovery and development of novel medicines. leadXpro AG, a fast-growing biotech company at PARK INNOVAARE, successfully tackles the membrane protein structure identification challenge to advance the drug discovery process and bring better drugs to the market. The company in collaboration with a major pharmaceutical player was able to identify novel ligand-bound GPCR structures with a great variety of binding modes, with unprecedented speed. Now the collaboration partner is leveraging the exquisite structural detail of eleven high-resolution GPCR-ligand co-structures in their drug discovery campaigns. Using this information, chemists can better understand how the compound interacts with the molecular drug target and optimize its properties, resulting in more effective drugs with fewer side-effects.

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State-of-the-art bioinformatics for better drug discovery

State-of-the-art bioinformatics for better drug discovery

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Dr. Aurélien Rizk: "We are developing different assets for the discovery of functionally selective drugs with improved efficacy and reduced side effects."

Image » Dr. Aurélien Rizk: "We are developing different assets for the discovery of functionally selective drugs with improved efficacy and reduced side effects."

InterAx Biotech AG
Dr. Aurélien Rizk
rizk@interaxbiotech.com


The effect a drug has on the human body depends on how well its active substance finds its way to the targeted cells in the body, and on the chemical reactions, it activates in the maze of cell signaling pathways. To understand this process, InterAx Biotech AG, a spin-off from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the ETH Zurich based at PARK INNOVAARE, has developed a unique solution. InterAx’s Biosensors Technology Platform enables a quantitative comparison of drug-induced GPCR (G protein-coupled receptors) signaling pathways, thus making it possible to identify better and safer selective lead molecules for this class of human receptors. The unique approach of InterAx is to combine protein-based biosensors and the mathematical modelling of signaling pathways that is fed with the data derived from the biosensors and cell image analysis. In his interview to PARK INNOVAARE, Dr. Aurélien Rizk, computer scientist, systems biologist and one of the co-founders of InterAx, explains the technology behind the platform.

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SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE

The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) is Switzerland's largest research center for natural and engineering sciences. It employs more than 2,000 specialists conducting cutting-edge research in three main fields: matter and materials, energy and environment and human health. Every year, thousands of scientists around the world come to PSI to use our unique facilities to carry out experiments that are not possible anywhere else.

Read more about PSI’s research in the field of biotech and pharmaceuticals.


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Life Science basic research on the top level

Life Science basic research on the top level

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Recently inaugurated, SwissFEL will enable researchers to perform time-resolved structure determination of biological specimens.

Image » Recently inaugurated, SwissFEL will enable researchers to perform time-resolved structure determination of biological specimens.

Laboratory of Biomolecular Research (LBR)


The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) is Switzerland’s biggest research institute for natural and engineering sciences. It hosts most of the country’s large research infrastructures, including the synchrotron Swiss Light Source SLS and, most recently, the Swiss X-Ray Free-Electron Laser SwissFEL. It is also home to the world’s first pencil beam scanning proton therapy facility. Along with matter and materials, energy and environment, human health is a strategic focus area of the research activities at the PSI. The Institute provides perfect conditions for basic and translational biological research. In the last two years, several PSI spin-off companies have been established in or relocated to PARK INNOVAARE.

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Infrastructure and R&D solutions

Infrastructure and R&D solutions

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The Swiss Light Source (SLS) and the free-electron laser (SwissFEL) provide beams of exceptional brightness and stability for research in material science, biology and chemistry.

Image » The Swiss Light Source (SLS) and the free-electron laser (SwissFEL) provide beams of exceptional brightness and stability for research in material science, biology and chemistry.

Large-scale research facilities and their applications


The combination of cutting-edge technologies and methods available at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) helps scientists and user companies achieve unprecedented results in their research activities. Already today, the companies at PARK INNOVAARE offer unique structure identification services, such as rapid, nondestructive analysis of multicomponent mixtures, powerful method for determining absolute configuration, data collection from nanocrystals, and cutting-edge research on membrane protein structure.

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FUNDING & INFRASTRUCTURE

One of the core advantages of the site is a unique combination of large research facilities, available modern office and lab space, and state-of-the-art hardware. Completed by a number of funding opportunities and a large national and international network of research institutes, SMEs and big companies, the site is an innovation gold mine.

Find out more about unique opportunities PARK INNOVAARE and Switzerland Innovation offer.


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PARK INNOVAARE for biotech and pharma

PARK INNOVAARE for biotech and pharma

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PARK INNOVAARE is responding to the increasing demand for highly flexible, easy-to-access laboratories.

Image » PARK INNOVAARE is responding to the increasing demand for highly flexible, easy-to-access laboratories.

Prof. Daniel Kündig, CEO
PARK INNOVAARE: deliveryLAB
5234 Villigen
innovation@parkinnovaare.ch


PARK INNOVAARE provides the best possible operating conditions for biotech and pharmaceutical companies. This includes the availability of modern laboratories and office space. Already eight high-tech companies have joined the site, located just a stone’s throw away from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). Four of these companies are active in the pharmaceutical, chemical and biotech industries and benefit from PARK INNOVAARE’s perfect environment. One of the most crucial factors for these young companies – as well as for the R&D units of large enterprises – is accessible, state-of-the-art lab and office space. Although the market offers a lot of opportunities, the possibility to work directly on the campus of a university or research institute, such as the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), is rare.

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Get more out of your R&D activities

Get more out of your R&D activities

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Switzerland Innovation creates a platform where groundbreaking researchers, innovative companies, and entrepreneurs can work together.

Image » Switzerland Innovation creates a platform where groundbreaking researchers, innovative companies, and entrepreneurs can work together.

Raymond Cron, CEO
Switzerland Innovation
Monbijoustrasse 15
3011 Bern
info@switzerland-innovation.com


As a network of Swiss innovation parks, Switzerland Innovation provides a platform for corporate R&D teams to collaborate with leading scientists from academia, industry partners and pioneering start-ups. It facilitates access to the expertise of the world’s leading universities, such as Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology ETH Zurich and EPFL, and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). Companies collaborating with PARK INNOVAARE, one of Switzerland Innovation’s five sites, benefit from technology transfer platforms, state-of-the-art infrastructure and a unique atmosphere, which together foster the creation of the next best-selling products and services.

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